Friday, 4 January 2008

British P.M.'s Response to Cornish Petitions

The Government issued an Invitation to Councils in October 2006 to come forward with proposals for a single-tier of local government in their areas. Following a process of careful assessment, which included a twelve week consultation on shortlisted proposals, the Government announced on 5 December 2007 that Cornwall County Council's proposal for a single unitary council for Cornwall will be implemented.
It was judged to have met all of the five criteria as specified in the original Invitation to Councils. The order creating the unitary authority will be debated in Parliament in the New Year. It is intended that the new unitary council will be up and running on 1 April 2009.

The Government's view on the idea of a separate assembly for Cornwall is well known and remains unchanged. It is not easy to see advantage in an 'assembly' that would duplicate an existing unit of local government over a coterminous area.
The Government's approach on devolving powers from central Government to the sub-region was set out in the Local Government White Paper published on 26 October 2006 and in the Review of sub-national economic development and regeneration published on 17 July 2007. The Review builds on the White Paper by proposing increased powers and stronger incentives for all local authorities, including those in Cornwall, to improve the prosperity of their communities.
On 17 July 2007, the Government also announced that 'Regional Assemblies in their current form and function will not continue'. Regional Assembly planning and housing responsibilities will transfer to the existing Regional Development Agencies (RDAs).

I have a problem with this word "regional". There appears to be a confusion in government thinking between what is regional and what is national. Are Wales and Cornwall nations or aren't they? If Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Cornwall are nations what then is this so-called "British nation"?

Comments from Cllr Dick Cole, Mebyon Kernow

“2007 was a landmark year for democratic renewal in both Scotland and Wales. The Scottish National Party has formed an administration in the Scottish Parliament, with all parties now actively debating the devolution of extra powers.
“In Wales, Plaid Cymru is in coalition with the Labour Party, with both parties committed to law-making powers for the Welsh Assembly.
“But here in Cornwall, we have had to suffer the undemocratic disgrace of Liberal Democrat county councillors and MPs retreating from their commitment to a Cornish Assembly and forcing an unpopular unitary authority onto Cornwall.
“Whereas the people of Scotland and Wales are progressing further along the path to greater political powers, here in Cornwall we are preparing for the backward step that will be the centralisation of our local government structures and the growing influence of unelected, undemocratic bodies and agencies.
“At the same time, we continue to suffer under-investment from central government, threats to our public services, the growth in inequality in Cornish Society as well as the ever-worsening housing crisis
“We must make 2008 a year of real political activism and fight back against those who have so failed Cornwall over the last 12 months.”

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